Another excerpt from a paper on beauty and art (or, more specifically, a paper defending the existence of normative standards of beauty):
According to Abraham Kuyper, John Calvin thought highly of art, saying that its goal went beyond the imitation of nature. Art’s purpose lay in “disclosing to man a higher reality than was offered to us by this sinful and corrupted world.” (Kuyper, 153) In other words, art has a transcendent quality that lifts the heart and mind of man above the mundane. When a person reads a wonderful story it evokes within her the sense that there is a greater and higher Story that rises above the everyday world. When a person beholds a beautiful work of art or listens to a mesmerizing piece of music that person is reminded in some way of Ultimate Beauty. Such an understanding brings into sharper focus the Lord’s concern for the physical beauty of the Temple and other aspects of the worship of His people. The artistic beauty helped to call to mind the transcendent beauty of the Lord himself as His people came before Him.
Conversely, the fact that the arts call to mind a greater Beauty also reminds humanity that such beauty has been lost. It is in this final sense that the Christian worldview affords a deep significance to the arts and their pursuit of beauty that rival views do not. Kuyper says, “If you confess that the world once was beautiful, but by the curse has become undone, and by a final catastrophe is to pass to its full state of glory, excelling even the beautiful of paradise, then art has the mystical task of reminding us in its productions of the beautiful that was lost and of anticipating its perfect coming luster.” (Kuyper, 155) Within this conception of the arts, and of beauty, one can see the contours of the broader biblical story and the Christian worldview.
(The citations are from Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, delivered at Princeton in 1898.)